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(Hungry) Science Nerd: educator, writer and general foodie.

Who I am, and what I like to write about

A lego woman wearing glasses peeks through a pair of glasses.
Photo by Adam van den Brink on Unsplash

Ah, I see you have stumbled upon my profile page — lovely to meet you!

I am not (as the picture above might suggest) a miniature woman with plastic hair.

I am, in fact, a real human (see my profile picture if you’d like proof).

I do have freckles and need glasses to see anything more than about a metre away, so the Lego lady and I have much in common in that respect.

I also love to peer into the science of how things work and write about it. …

The succulent science behind this oh-so moreish flavour

Photo by María Fernanda Morales on Unsplash

Ah, yes, there I am: hovering over the crisp bowl, again.

It’s always the same at parties, whilst others can’t resist the sugar-filled sweets and cake, I know my kryptonite: potato chips (especially bacon flavoured ones), cheese, and anything with fish sauce.

Yup, you heard that last bit right. I’m nuts about the stuff. You see, Thai is my favourite cuisine, closely followed by Japanese and Chinese. Why? I love soy sauce, I adore fish sauce, I love miso. I didn’t realise that the unifying factor in all these delicious foods was ‘umami’, until recently.

Now this taste has been…

A fascinating look into the science behind one of nature’s greatest spectacles

Photo by Andrew Small on Unsplash

September is ‘cosy time’ in the UK. The warmer summer days gradually give to cooler breezes, chillier nights and of course, a kaleidoscope of yellow, orange and red leaves.

We live quite near a forest and wrapped in new scarfs, hats and gloves, thousands of families will descend upon its shadowy paths, stomping through crunchy leaves and making the most of the bright, cold, autumn light, before the dreary skies of winter take hold.

I have always wondered — what chemical changes take place to transform leaves from lush green to fiery red, all in such a short amount of…

Great coffee is more than just rocket fuel: it’s the product of fascinating alchemy

A overturned white cup, overflowing with glossy brown coffee beans.
Photo by Jo Lanta on Unsplash

Where’s your favourite place to go for coffee? I know mine, a small locally run coffee shop in our neighbourhood. I’m not sure what they do to those little brown beans behind the counter, but it tastes like magic.

Don’t even get me started on the latte art, which is almost too pretty sometimes — I feel like a monster for destroying the intricate swirls with my every sip.

We are lucky enough to have a coffee machine at home too (that, and the dishwasher are some of the most prized possessions in our house). …

Decoding the language of these master manipulators

Photo by seb. on Unsplash

No, really, I have full-blown, lengthy, and sometimes, quite informative, conversations with my cat. I don’t just talk to our slightly chubby feline, Oscar, I converse with him.

Here’s an example of one of our daily exchanges:

Oscar: ‘Mmmmmeow’, pause, ‘Mmmmmeow’, pause, ‘Mmmmeeeeooooooowwww’.

Translation: ‘Human, I’m hungry. Use your opposable thumbs to feed me my nondescript meaty chunks.’

Me (out loud): ‘It’s not your feeding time, Oscar. Not now.’

Oscar: ‘Meow’, pause, ‘Meooooowww’

Translation: ‘Salmon please, and hop to it. I want a full belly for nap time.’

I avert my eyes from Oscar, whose green searchlight eyes are now…

Hint: Adding oil to the water is just a waste

A close up of some bow pasta shapes.
Photo by Bozhin Karaivanov on Unsplash

Recently, I wrote an article about the science behind boiling water — and how to make it happen more quickly.

One thing I didn’t mention was adding salt — and whether that helps the boiling process. The science behind whether this makes a difference is interesting, and it got me thinking: why not write about the science behind cooking pasta?

Also, autumn is on its way, world pasta day is around the corner, and the cloudy skies and slight chill in the air make the thought of a steaming hot bowl of pasta just perfect.

How do you like yours…

New elements are born from the ashes of dying stars

Photo by Anton Darius on Unsplash

Do you remember your High School chemistry classes?

Perhaps they were a little like mine: row upon row of wooden benches, dark brown with age, and covered with various scars from experiments gone wrong. I’ll never forget the smell — burnt and sulphurous, heavy with dust and edged with that unmistakable tang of acid. And, in the corner, looking forlorn and neglected, would hang a periodic table. The poster’s corners curled, its edges ripped and the once vibrant colours faded.

A copy of the periodic table is found in almost every chemistry lab, yet it rarely receives much attention. …

Instead, write every day, enjoy the process, and your ‘voice’ will come

Photo by Debby Hudson on Unsplash

I’ve learnt a lot this year.

I first joined this platform last September: my work situation had changed (along with many others) and I found myself with more ‘free’ time. My first foray into blogging started with a few hesitant articles — they took a long time to write.

If I’m honest, writing some of them felt arduous. Was writing supposed to be this hard?

My problem with ‘Jigsaw’ writing

Part of the issue was my background — having worked in academia, I was trained to produce high-detail, small-picture, research-heavy pieces. That sort of writing doesn’t really flow (at least in my experience) — it’s…

How science helps me avoid the ‘rotisserie-style chicken’ situation

Photo by Herbert Goetsch on Unsplash

As an individual with melanin in rather short supply, the effects of sun exposure are felt quickly and ferociously. No sooner have I exposed my milky shoulders to a gloriously sunny day than I feel the familiar ‘skin-tickle’, and look down to see my poor shoulders already turning a rather luminous shade of pink.

Ok, this is a slight exaggeration, yes, but I burn easily, really easily.

When I pack for sunnier climes I pack suncream first. Clothes, underwear, giant floating unicorn thing, they are all secondary — the factor 5 gazillion must take precedence. Sometimes, I get a sort…

Is advancing your career by ‘upgrading your cubicle’ being relegated to the tomes of history?

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

Growing up in the 90s, I envisioned my adult self marching around some uber- cool, open-plan office — crisp white shirt and tall ‘cap’ to-go in hand. Of course, I’d have gone for my morning run, and now I was showered, hair coiffed, and of course, my unruly eyebrows would be tyrannised into whispy 90s perfection.

Perhaps I would have a big presentation that day, a chance to show my business prowess and knock the socks off the VPs, who in my young millennial imagination, were mostly middle-aged men in oversized suits. …

Rosie Alderson, PhD

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